Subsurface environments beneath the continents and the oceans represent the most expansive habitat on Earth, yet that which we know the least about. Our laboratory studies the diversity, distribution, and activities of microorganisms in the deep subsurface biosphere using molecular biological approaches coupled with geochemical analyses. Our focus is on high pH (10-12) microbial ecosystems created by the serpentinization of ultramafic rocks from the deep Earth. We also study high temperature microbial ecosystems associated with volcanically-driven hydrothermal venting in the oceans. Investigation of these ecosystems will provide insight into the contributions of subsurface microorganisms to the global carbon budget, and may have applications ranging from biotechnology and alternative energy strategies.
S. Seager, W. Bains, M. Schrenk. 2012. An Astrophysical view of Earth-based metabolism. Astrobiology. 12:61-82
Brazelton, W.J., B. Nelson, M.O. Schrenk. 2011. Metagenomic evidence of H2 oxidation and H2 production by serpentinite-hosted subsurface microbial communities. Frontiers in Extreme Microbiology 2:268. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2011.00268
Schrenk, M.O., J.A. Huber, K.J. Edwards. 2010. Microbial provinces in the subseafloor. Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci. 2. 279-304.
Y. Jiao, G.D. Cody, A.K. Harding, P. Wilmes, M. Schrenk, K.E. Wheeler, J.F. Banfield, M.P. Thelen. 2010. Characterization of Extracellular Polymeric Substances from Acidophilic Microbial Biofilms. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76: 2916-2922.
Schrenk, M.O., J.F. Holden, J.A. Baross. 2008. Magma-to-Microbe Networks in Seafloor Sulfide Deposits. In Magma to Microbe at Mid Ocean Ridges. AGU Monograph. R. Lowell, A. Metaxas (Eds.).
W.J. Brazelton, M.O. Schrenk, D.S. Kelley, J.A. Baross. 2006. Methane and sulfur metabolizing microbial communities dominate in the Lost City Hydrothermal Field ecosystem. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72(9):6257-6270.
Baross, J.A., J.A. Huber, and M.O. Schrenk. 2006. Limits of Carbon Life on Earth and Elsewhere. In Planets and Life: The Emerging Science of Astrobiology. J.A. Baross and W.T. Sullivan (Eds). Cambridge University Press.
Kelley, D.S., J. Karson, G. Früh-Green, D. Yoerger, T. Shank, D. Butterfield, J. Hayes, M.O. Schrenk, E. Olson,G. Proskurowski, M. Jakuba, A. Bradley, B. Larson, K. Ludwig, D. Glickson, K. Buckman, A.S. Bradley, W. Brazelton, K. Roe, M. Elend, A.Delacour, S. Bernasconi, m. Lilley, J. Baross, R. Summons, S. Sylva. 2005. A Serpentinite-hosted ecosystem: The Lost City Hydrothermal Field. Science. 307: 1428-1434.